Amway’s journey from 100,000 print catalogues a month to digital

The advantages of digital publishing for brands are multiple. It saves printing costs, saves trees, and general manager of Amway Australia Michial Coldwell says that while it repositions to a younger crowd, marketers can find ways to win over the older crowd too.

Coldwell says the industry-leading decision to move all Australian and New Zealand brochures and marketing materials from print-based to digital publication was “a no brainer.”

Five years ago the health and beauty marketing company was producing 100,000 hard copy magazines and distributing them across the two countries every month. But by 2009 the effectiveness of hard-copy catalogues was declining dramatically.

“We had a long history of communication via print, but we found increasingly that the impact of those publications was becoming less and less,” Coldwell says. “Over time people’s interest and excitement over receiving a magazine was waning.”

Amway also knew that printed publications where particularly unpopular among the demographic they were most trying to attract as new customers: young people.

“The decision to move to digital was a deliberate strategy to attract more young people to our business. It was crucial that we move into the digital space to appeal to and meet the needs of a younger clientele,” Coldwell says.

The approach was a huge success. Today more than 50% of new customers are under the age of 30 and Amway has successfully won over the most important source of new business growth.

But Coldwell says it took more than just moving Amway’s printed content from page to a screen to achieve this success.

“Digital generally provides more opportunity than print publishing so we were very conscious of making maximum use of our digital published materials,” he says.

“With video and audio capabilities the content can have so much more depth. Plus customers know what good content looks like and they expect that. They want a rich and multifaceted experience when they engage with digital publications.”

Amway did its utmost to ensure all of its marketing material was optimised for viewing online, on tablet and on smartphone, with easy to understand infographics and interactive comparison tools.

Making the content available through a wide range of digital devices was also highly important in terms of meeting the needs of new customers.

“We wanted to provide mobility with regard to all of our communications,” Coldwell says. “It was integral that customers be able to access the information online, through a tablet or mobile app or download them to access offline. We wanted them to be able to use the material in the way easiest for them which means across all platforms.”

This ease-of-use approach was very much aimed at winning over younger consumers, but Coldwell says a particularly important aspect of the move to digital was ensuring the new technology could also be utilised to meet the needs of older existing clients.

“Some people, particularly older customers, who were used to the print medium struggled with the change, but we found the best approach was to work to bring our older existing customers with us.”

Managers and customer service staff are all trained in how to use digital publications on tablets to help customers understand and compare different loans and bank accounts. In this way Amway has been able to ensure that those more reluctant to engage with digital material can still access and benefit from the ANZ publications in-store.

“That approach has made us more successful with older people than many other businesses in the same market,” Coldwell says.

For Amway the move to digital has cut down production times, saved huge amounts of paper and eliminated delivery costs but Coldwell sees the improvements to the currency of the material as the biggest advantage.

“Our old magazine had a four-month publication cycle, now we can put out information in a digital format in much less time,” Coldwell says. “That means out material is always up-to-date, and we can also produce things much more tactically and spontaneously when needed.”

The other huge benefit of digital is that it makes it much easier for marketeers to judge the success of their content. Amway knows that its digital publications throughout Australia and New Zealand have been viewed 1.5 million time and downloaded a further 90,000 times. It knows who is downloading the material and how users are engaging with it.

“Having all that information means we can continue to develop our materials to suit what our audience is embracing,” Coldwell says.

He and other experts in digital marketing publishing agree that customer and audience-optimised content is the way of the future.

“More and more people of all ages are going to embrace all aspects of digital in the next few years,” Coldwell says.

“We’ve really been a pioneer in our industry in terms of embracing digital and I see us continuing to lead the way.

“The way I see it moving forward will be all about producing material that is better tailored to our customers.”

 

Marketing spoke to Coldwell ahead of the Adobe Digital Publishing Summit to be held in Sydney on Thursday 31 October 2013.

BY Eleani Purcell ON 28 October 2013